How to Hire a GC in Austin Part 2

PART TWO – HIRING A GC – CHOOSE WISELY

You have decided it is time to do a remodel and you do not want to be the general contractor. You have gotten some names from reliable sources but aren’t certain how to proceed.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Research:

Do your homework. Just because your best friend has referred a general contractor, you have every right to be judicious.  Learn as much as possible before hiring someone and signing a contract.

You should:

-       Interview the general contractor

-       See if they are listed on the Better Business Bureau website

-       Check out any testimonials made online

-       Look at their website

-       Review their credentials

-       Determine if they are licensed

-       Read articles online to learn more about the process     

Does the contractor have a brick and mortar location (a physical location insures that you know where to get a hold of your contractor if need be and gives the extra reassurance that they are not a “here-today-gone-tomorrow” business)

Ask the contractor to meet with you at the job site. This allows them to inspect the area and begin thinking about the job you want done.  Ask the contractor how he bids out a job.  While you know that an estimate should include the contractor’s cost plus the mark-up for profit, how are these numbers acquired?

Contracts:

Some contractors give you a worksheet that provides a line-by-line itemized list that consists of a labor and materials estimate; they then charge you a percentage of the total job as their management fee.  Typically, mark-ups range from 10% - 30%.  This type of contract should begin with fairly accurate estimated costs that are then changed to actual costs once the line item is complete.

Other contractors give you a “fixed-price” which includes their costs of materials, labor and profit. This type of contract typically ensures that your cost will not increase and it is up to the contractor to be timely and efficient to ensure he is maximizing his profits.

Regardless of which type of contract you feel more comfortable with, make sure that you are provided receipts. This is the only way to ensure that the money you are giving your contractor is actually going to pay for the labor and materials for your job.

Insurance:

Ask what type of insurance the contractor holds. It is important to understand what type of liability you are assuming before having workers on your property. Additionally, you may want to consult your insurance agent to know the extent of your homeowner coverage during construction.

Permits:

We always suggest getting permits. However, we know that often times a permit will increase the projects timing. Additionally, we realize that every county has different requirements when it comes to permitting. Our advice is to know what the law is in your area. At the very least, you should hire another inspector or contractor to make certain that your job is done to code. In real estate, we often find that our clients want to sell their house only to find out that their remodel wasn’t done to code and needs to be fixed before the house goes on the market.

We believe that most people want remodels to be:

  1. On time
  2. Within budget
  3. Of quality craftsmanship

We also believe that typically in life, you can have two out of the three but it is rare to get all three, so choose the two that are most important to you and realize that the third may be slightly lacking.

Ultimately, the decision is yours and when spending thousands of dollars, this can be a very big decision. While the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, if you take your time, have good referrals and do your research, you are taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your investment.  Remember that the cheapest estimate may not always be the best choice.

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